Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Bits and pieces, tidbits and gewgaws

That is my way of saying that this post has no central theme. It contains unrelated minutiae, perhaps even ephemera. But trivia? Never!

If you don't know what ephemera means, follow Rowan and Martin's advice from Laugh-In days and look it up in your Funk & Wagnalls. For the record, we never owned a set of Funk & Wagnalls. We owned a 20-volume set of The Book of Knowledge and a 20-volume set of the Grolier Encyclopedia. At school I used the World Book Encyclopedia or the Encyclopedia Americana or the Encyclopedia Britannica, but the school library didn't have Funk & Wagnalls either. You can safely assume I have never looked up anything in my or anybody else's Funk & Wagnalls.

Be that as it may, it can now be revealed that north Georgia is having its second snowfall of the season today as we speak. The first one occurred about two weeks ago and any trace of it has long since disappeared. Our area receives a lot more rain than snow in wintertime, and if the temperatures dip at the same time, we often get ice on the roads and the sidewalks and the trees and the cars. When it gets really bad, branches and even trees come crashing down. Life often comes to a complete stop until the ice melts and the debris is cleared away.

Moving right along, our oldest grandson turned 20 years old today and is no longer a teenager. On top of that, he is currently "batting a thousand" on his college's baseball team. I'm not kidding:


Sorry for the blurriness. I think my hand must have been shaking upon this momentous occasion. The baseball season has just begun and the team has won all three games played to date. Since Elijah played on the Junior Varsity team last year (which his school calls the Varsity Reserve), none of those Freshman-year statistics are included. Batting 1000 (that is, 1.000) is a very rare thing that cannot be sustained for very long. Ted Williams of Boston Red Sox fame, one of the best baseball players who ever lived, finished his career with a .344 batting average, meaning he got a hit about once out of every three turns at bat. In 1941, he posted a .406 batting average, making him the last Major League Baseball player to bat over .400 in a season.

The snow has turned to sleet. It may be a while before Elijah's career can resume.

P.S. -- This is my 1,500th post. It took only 8 years, 4 months, and 12 days to get here. The celebrating may now begin.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Halftime

I don't know what the English the Australians the Germans your country's athletic supporters do during halftime at football rugby soccer cricket futbol your favorite sporting event -- indeed, I do not know whether you even have a halftime during your favorite sporting event -- but here in the good old Yew Ess of Ay what happened during last night's Super Hideously Excessive Extravaganza Bowl is in no way typical.

Your average high school or college football game here in my country does not have Lady Gaga singing the National Anthem nor does it have Cold Play, or Bruno Mars, or Beyoncé and her minions performing (and I use the term loosely) a tribute to the Black Panthers.

No, indeed. We leave that to The Professionals.

Out here in Amateur Land, in Realville, where ordinary people live, we have marching bands.

Back in my day in my little town of Mansfield, Texas (population then: 964; population now: 65,000), when we marched onto the field at halftime on Friday nights our band had majorettes in front wearing boots and short, short, short satin skirts, twirling their batons and swiveling their hips, making their parents in the grandstand proud and thoroughly distracting the trombone players in the front row. But our high school band had only 46 members. We could make two -- count 'em, two -- formations. The first one was a football with laces down the center, which we presented to the visitors side. The second one was a letter M, which we presented to the home team side. On a typical Friday evening, if even only a few people were missing, none of the athletic supporters on either side of the field could make out what our formations were supposed to be.

It is therefore with great joy and not a little envy that I now present to you a wonderful (albeit a bit militaristic) salute to the U.S. armed forces in a halftime show performed by The University of West Virginia Mountaineers Marching Band! (about 5 minutes long).

(Full disclosure: I didn't watch the Super Bowl. I read about it this morning. So I suppose there is a fair amount of sour grapes in this particular post. Instead, I watched reruns of old episodes of Cops for a while, then topped off the evening with Downton Abbey, series 6, episode 6 -- the one in which Thomas the under-butler is seen weeping alone in the dark at the end of the program. I pray you are not doing the same at the end of this post.)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Senior night at the basketball court

Not senior as in a person of advanced age (like myself), but senior as in the final year of high school before a fellow goes off to university.

It was the final home game for the 2016 basketball team (basketball being a winter season sport) at the school where our grandson Noah, second son of our second son, has been a starter and co-captain during his senior year. There were two more games remaining on the schedule but they were "away" games -- meaning at the opponents' schools -- and one can hardly hold a senior recognition night at an away game, can one?

No, one can't.

So, without further ado, here are shots of Noah before and after the game. I do apologize (British, apologise) for not including shots during the game, but I was too busy watching and cheering to take many any photographs.

Noah being introduced before the game and running past the cheerleading squad, who waved their shiny, gold pom-poms:



After the game, during the recognition ceremony, each senior player walked with his family through an arch of balloons and a tunnel of honor (British, honour) composed of ROTC students holding up swords:



Each player's activities and accomplishments during his four years of high school were announced. Unfortunately, it was difficult to understand what anyone's accomplishments were because of the way the sound of the public address system echoed around the gymnasium.



Finally, the basketball coaches came and shook hands with the honorees and their parents. Each mom was presented with a single long-stemmed rose, which event I also managed not to capture in a photograph:



What can I say? Regardless of my skill or lack thereof with a camera, I was am a very proud grandpa.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Be warned

...in case you missed this:

The Official Buzz from Blogger at Google

An update on Google Friend Connect

December 21, 2015

In 2011, we announced the retirement of Google Friend Connect for all non-Blogger sites. We made an exception for Blogger to give readers an easy way to follow blogs using a variety of accounts. Yet over time, we’ve seen that most people sign into Friend Connect with a Google Account. So, in an effort to streamline, in the next few weeks we’ll be making some changes that will eventually require readers to have a Google Account to sign into Friend Connect and follow blogs.

As part of this plan, starting the week of January 11, we’ll remove the ability for people with Twitter, Yahoo, Orkut or other OpenId providers to sign in to Google Friend Connect and follow blogs. At the same time, we’ll remove non-Google Account profiles so you may see a decrease in your blog follower count.

We encourage you to tell affected readers (perhaps via a blog post), that if they use a non-Google Account to follow your blog, they need to sign up for a Google Account, and re-follow your blog. With a Google Account, they’ll get blogs added to their Reading List, making it easier for them to see the latest posts and activity of the blogs they follow.

We know how important followers are to all bloggers, but we believe this change will improve the experience for both you and your readers.

Posted by Michael Goddard, Software Engineer


If I were still in the Boy Scouts, posting this would count as my good deed for the day.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas any more

Yorkshire Pudding is always taking us along on his walks through the English countryside. I thought today I would take us someplace else.



My Country
by Dorothea Mackellar


The love of field and coppice
Of green and shaded lanes,
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins.
Strong love of grey-blue distance,
Brown streams and soft, dim skies
I know, but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror --
The wide brown land for me!

The stark white ring-barked forests,
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon,
Green tangle of the brushes
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops,
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When, sick at heart, around us
We see the cattle die --
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the rainbow gold,
For flood and fire and famine
She pays us back threefold --
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze ...

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land --
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand --
Though Earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.

Stumped? It could almost be somewhere in the American West -- Arizona maybe, except for the jewel sea -- but it is not.

Dorothea Mackellar (1885 - 1968), author of the poem, was from Australia. She began writing the poem in 1904 while visiting London, England. The spectacular 12-foot-high metal sculpture of a phrase from the second stanza is located at Australia's National Arboretum in Weston, a suburb of Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

Thank you, Sue (Elephant's Child), for introducing me to this beautiful poem.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Peacocks are blue, dilly-dilly, peacocks are green

One green peacock may be beautiful:



But two blue peacocks are downright gorgeous:



These are Mrs. RWP's fifth and sixth creations since she began enjoying her new hobby of using artist's pencils to complete adult-difficulty coloring books. She chooses her own combinations.

Thanks to Sue in Australia who blogs as Elephant's Child, I was introduced today to an Australian poet, Dorothea Mackellar, who was born in 1885 and died in 1968. In my next post I will share with you her best-known poem, but today I want to share her poem "Colour" because it gives me, a non-artist, insight into how Mrs. RWP must experience things:

Colour

The lovely things that I have watched unthinking,
Unknowing, day by day,
That their soft dyes have steeped my soul in colour
That will not pass away -

Great saffron sunset clouds, and larkspur mountains,
And fenceless miles of plain,
And hillsides golden-green in that unearthly
Clear shining after rain;

And nights of blue and pearl, and long smooth beaches,
Yellow as sunburnt wheat,
Edged with a line of foam that creams and hisses,
Enticing weary feet.

And emeralds, and sunset-hearted opals,
And Asian marble, veined
With scarlet flame, and cool green jade, and moonstones
Misty and azure-stained;

And almond trees in bloom, and oleanders,
Or a wide purple sea,
Of plain-land gorgeous with a lovely poison,
The evil Darling pea.

If I am tired I call on these to help me
To dream -and dawn-lit skies,
Lemon and pink, or faintest, coolest lilac,
Float on my soothed eyes.

There is no night so black but you shine through it,
There is no morn so drear,
O Colour of the World, but I can find you,
Most tender, pure and clear.

Thanks be to God, Who gave this gift of colour,
Which who shall seek shall find;
Thanks be to God, Who gives me strength to hold it,
Though I were stricken blind.

--Dorothea Mackellar (1885 - 1968)

P.S. - Peacocks can also be white:


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Have you heard the one about the nine ladybugs, the peacock, and the Guernsey cow who walk into a bar?




Neither have I.

There isn't a Guernsey cow. I made up that part.

Actually, the photographs in this post are the two latest masterpieces from Mrs. RWP's new coloring book.

Survey: Which is funnier, a Guernsey cow, a St. Bernard, or a big, black tarantula? Give reasons.

This post makes absolutely no sense because the full moon once again approaches. Accordingly, I am dedicating it (the post, not the moon) to our old friend Putz (David Barlow of Tooele, Utah) who hasn't posted since January 16, 2014. His innovative spelling and indecipherable punctuation are sorely missed in this little corner of Blogland.

All in favor say "Aye"....